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Fall 2020 Course

Legal Writing: Advanced

Prerequisites: Open to 2nd and 3rd year JD students. For LLM students, instructor permission is required

Exam Type: No Exam

This course provides advanced training in legal writing across the range of situations typically met by the practicing lawyer and in the ways that different types of legal writing help to solve clients’ problems. Using the format of a small class and one-on-one sessions with the instructor, this course will examine the way that practicing lawyers use writing for the varying types of tasks which they perform. The course asks students to distinguish between the types of writing that lawyers use for transactions, litigation, statutes, and client communication and helps them to decide how to use those four types of legal writing in particular situations. Each class session will explore a factual situation that calls for a type of legal writing. After each class, there will be a short writing assignment asking the student to deal with the problem in a paper using the relevant type of legal writing. Between classes, students will meet with the instructor to go over his comments and edits in the way that a junior lawyer can expect to meet with a superior in a law office.

Note: The course will be graded on a Credit/Fail basis.


Suggested Readings on Grammar and Styles*
Strunk and White, The Elements of Style
Kolln and Funk, Understanding English Grammar
Bryan Garner, The Elements of Legal Style
Bryan Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English
Steven Stark, Writing to Win
Richard Neuman, Legal Reasoning and Legal Writing
Armstrong & Terrell, Thinking Like a Writer

Legal Writing
Legal Writing by Hon. Robert E. Bacharach (Recommended)
The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker (Recommended)
Point Made by Ross Guberman (Recommended)

*None of these books are required reading, nonetheless the grammar we barely remember being taught in grade school and/or identifying common flaws in lawyerlike writing.  Strunk and White can be read in an hour or two and is a classic commentary on modern English usage. The two chapters in Kolln and Funk are particularly useful explanations of English grammar, but they assume familiarity with terminology and is defined in earlier portions of the book.  Bryan Garner has become the leading guru for legal writing and has even coauthored a treatise on appellate writing with Justice Scalia.  The other authorities are useful and will be excerpted in assignments during the course.